Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease
Periodontal disease may progress painlessly, producing few obvious signs, even in the late stages of the disease. Then one day, on a visit to your dentist, you might be told that you have chronic gum disease and that you may be at increased risk of losing your teeth.
Although the symptoms of periodontal disease often are subtle, the condition is not entirely without warning signs. Certain symptoms may point to some form of the disease. They include:
- gums that bleed during and after tooth brushing.
- red, swollen or tender gums
- persistent bad breath or bad taste in the mouth
- receding gums
- formation of deep pockets between teeth and gums
- loose or shifting teeth
- changes in the way teeth fit together on biting, or in the fit of partial dentures.
Even if you don't notice any symptoms, you may still have some degree of gum disease. Some people have gum disease only around certain teeth, such as those in the back of the mouth, which they cannot see. Only a dentist or a periodontist, a dentist who specializes in gum disease can recognize and determine the progression of gum disease.
The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) says that up to 30 percent of the U.S. population may be genetically susceptible to gum disease. And, despite aggressive oral care habits, people who are genetically predisposed may be up to six times more likely to develop some form of gum disease. Genetic testing to identify these people can help by encouraging early treatment that may help them keep their teeth for a lifetime.
During a periodontal exam, your gums are checked for bleeding, swelling, and firmness. The teeth are checked for movement and sensitivity. Your bite is assessed. Full-mouth X-rays can help detect breakdown of bone surrounding your teeth.
|Dentists (D.D.S. or D.M.D.)||Overall managers of dental health. Dentists can treat periodontal disease as part of the overall dental care they provide to their patients.|
|Periodontists (D.D.S. or D.M.D.)||Dentists who have completed additional training that allows them to specialize in diagnosing, treating, and preventing gum disease. Some are skilled at replacing missing teeth with dental implants.|
|There is no difference between the degrees D.D.S. (doctor of dental surgery) and D.M.D. (doctor of dental medicine). Some dental schools award one, and some award the other.|
Periodontal probing determines how severe your disease is. A probe is like a tiny ruler that is gently inserted into pockets around teeth. The deeper the pocket, the more severe the disease.
In healthy gums, the pockets measure less than 3 millimeters, about one-eighth of an inch and no bone loss appears on X-rays. Gums are tight against the teeth and have pink tips. Pockets that measure 3 millimeters to 5 millimeters indicate signs of disease. Tartar may be progressing below the gum line. and some bone loss could be evident. Pockets that are 5 millimeters or deeper indicate a serious condition that usually includes receding gums and a greater degree of bone loss.
Following the evaluation, your dentist or periodontist will recommend treatment options. Methods used to treat gum disease vary and are based on the stage of the disease.